October 5, 2022

World Bank President David Malpass faced mounting pressure to resign after criticism from German and US officials and environmental groups over his refusal to say whether he believed in man-made global warming and complaints about the banking data on climate-related finance.

Malpass avoided giving a clear answer three times at a climate week event in New York on Tuesday when asked if he accepted the reality of man-made climate change, finally saying he was “not a scientist.”

On Thursday, Malpass tried to reverse the comments, telling CNN it was “clear that greenhouse gas emissions come from man-made sources,” and that he was “not a denier.”

This followed a barrage of criticism of Malpass, who under his leadership was under constant attack for the World Bank record.

The bank provides loans and grants to poorer countries and is seen as crucial to distributing money to developing countries to help limit global warming as those economies grow.

According to OECD data, it is the largest provider of multilateral climate-related finance. But it did not join the numerous countries and other development banks that pledged last year to end government funding for coal, oil and gas abroad by the end of 2022, and the climate plan does not include a deadline for phasing out direct and indirect fossil fuels. fuels. financing.

Jochen Flasbarth, the state secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, pointed to the UN’s scientific evidence on global warming. “We are concerned about these confusing signals about scientific evidence of climate change from the top of the World Bank,” he said on Thursday.

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The bank “didn’t use its institutional position to lead global efforts on climate change,” said Sonia Dunlop, a multilateral development banking expert at the independent think tank E3G. “They have the ability to really lead the global effort and change the global financial system to help us implement the Paris Agreement. They’re just not leading that attack.”

Growing discontent is likely to put pressure on the Bank’s shareholders, its member states, in the run-up to the COP27 UN climate summit in November. The US is the largest shareholder and traditionally appoints the president of the World Bank.

Malpass, 66, was appointed by former US President Donald Trump and his term will expire in April 2024.

The US Treasury Department said Thursday it expected the Bank to be “a global leader in climate ambition”, something it said it would “make clear” to the group’s leadership.

Other countries would likely follow the US lead, Dunlop said. “If the Treasury and the White House were waiting for an excuse” [to replace Malpass]they have it now.”

US climate envoy John Kerry would not be drawn to Malpass’s position this week but called for broader reform of multilateral development banks. He had “pressed for months,” he said, for a review of the international financial institutions created as a result of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement, including the IMF and what later became the World Bank Group.

With just weeks to go before COP27, the World Bank is making it difficult for major development banks to draft a joint climate statement that they plan to present at the November summit, according to two people familiar with the matter. This follows pressure from the World Bank last year to shorten and weaken a joint development bank statement, as reported by the FT.

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Development banks’ joint annual report on climate finance, which is usually published in the middle of the year, has also yet to be published.

The World Bank Group reported this month that it had delivered a record $31.7 billion in 2022 to help countries tackle climate change, 19 percent more than the year before.

“Led by David Malpass, the World Bank Group has doubled its climate funding, published an ambitious climate change action plan and launched country-level diagnostics to support countries’ climate and development goals,” it said on Thursday.

However, the level of funding is lagging far behind what experts believe should be deployed.

Former Vice President Al Gore, a longtime advocate for Malpass, this week labeled him a “climate denier.” Gore said the bank did not intervene adequately to help finance the clean energy transition in emerging economies.

“Since nearly 90 percent of future increases in emissions will come from developing countries, we need to remove the top layers of risk from access to capital in these developing countries,” Gore said.

“That’s the job of the World Bank, to coordinate the other multilateral development banks, and they just don’t do it.”

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